Forefront Welcomes Valerie Jarrett to Celebrate Launch of Democracy Initiative

Valerie-Jarrett

Forefront is on a mission to build a vibrant social impact sector and improve the lives of all people in Illinois. Being the only regional association in the U.S. that represents philanthropy, nonprofits and their advisors, and allies of the sector, Forefront’s constituents encompass an intersectional and dynamic group of members.

To launch the new Democracy Initiative, an effort to mobilize outreach and civic engagement in the nonprofit sector, Forefront held its 44th Annual Luncheon, themed Let Them Hear You: Reimagining Power by Reclaiming Our Collective Voice. Hosted on June 26 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, the afternoon was centered around a discussion on civic activism and democratic engagement between David Hiller, president and CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, and special guest, Chicagoan Valerie B. Jarrett, senior advisor to the Obama Foundation and distinguished fellow at University of Chicago Law School. The event raised $400,000 in support of Forefront’s mission.

At last year’s luncheon, it was announced that Forefront would be advancing racial equity through its programs, services, and initiatives. “It’s going to be a long journey,” Eric Weinheimer, president and CEO of Forefront, said, “but we have begun the process.”

Forefront Annual Luncheon: Eric Weinheimer quote

Weinheimer addressed the 750 supporters attending the sold-out luncheon. He recounted a pivotal moment from this past May when the board participated in one-day racial equity training.

“Have you ever felt invisible?” Weinheimer questioned the audience. “I’m sure you have. Have you ever felt like people were ignoring you, or avoiding you, people were looking right through you?”

He went on to say, “Have you ever felt invisible because of your race, or your gender, or your disability, or where you’re from? It’s a horrible feeling we all know. It’s a feeling of being disempowered, it’s a feeling of little value or no value, it’s a feeling of not being recognized for your humanity, and yet we are at risk in this country of millions of people becoming invisible.”

Forefront Annual Luncheon: Eric Weinheimer
Eric Weinheimer, president and CEO of Forefront, during his opening remarks.

Weinheimer passionately expressed the vital importance of Census 2020; mobilizing and empowering the social impact sector to lead in helping everyone be counted and have their voice heard.

Weinheimer’s remarks opened the floor to Hiller and Jarrett’s discussion.

The event was made possible thanks to the hard work, commitment, and collaboration of the Forefront Luncheon Co-Chairs: Greg Cameron, president and CEO of the Joffrey BalletDonald Cooke, senior vice president of philanthropy for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation; Ambassador Fay Hartog-Levin (Ret.); and Michael Strautmanis, vice president of civic engagement for the Obama Foundation.

This year’s luncheon was presented by Make It Better Media, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, and The Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, along with other generous sponsors.

Join Make It Better Media and Forefront next month for a communications seminar led by Make It Better Founder Susan B. Noyes. Learn about the communication strategies that create the greatest impact and free online tools to improve your organization’s communications. Register now for the Sept. 5 event!

Forefront Annual Luncheon: Forefront staff with Valerie Jarrett
Forefront staff with Valerie Jarrett.
Forefront Annual Luncheon: David Krumlauf, Pierce Family Foundation; Sheau-ming Ross, McCormick Foundation; Heather Parish, Pierce Family Foundation; Sonia Matthew, McCormick Foundation; and Derek Stovall-Leonard, Forefront
David Krumlauf, Pierce Family Foundation; Sheau-ming Ross, McCormick Foundation; Heather Parish, Pierce Family Foundation; Sonia Matthew, McCormick Foundation; and Derek Stovall-Leonard, Forefront.
Forefront Annual Luncheon: Donald Cooke, McCormick Foundation; Ambassador Fay Hartog-Levin (Ret.); Ann Kisting, Philanthropy Plus; Valerie Jarrett; Greg DiDomenico, Community Memorial Foundation; and Michael Strautmanis, Obama Foundation
Donald Cooke, McCormick Foundation; Ambassador Fay Hartog-Levin (Ret.); Ann Kisting, Philanthropy Plus; Valerie Jarrett; Greg DiDomenico, Community Memorial Foundation; and Michael Strautmanis, Obama Foundation.
Forefront Annual Luncheon: Michael Strautmanis and David Hiller
Michael Strautmanis, Obama Foundation, with David Hiller, McCormick Foundation.
Forefront Annual Luncheon: Kim Casey with Valerie Jarrett
Kim Casey, Forefront, with Valerie Jarrett.

 

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Emily Stone is Associate Editor at Make It Better. She earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work is published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.